Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas to all!

I have been doing lots of stuff lately. I finished the blocks for the second part of the mystery, I made needle books for four people, a pin cushion for a friend, a pillow case, little and big scented hearts (tutorial by Dutch Sisters Easy Valentine ).

Unfortunately I cannot show any of my own pictures of it. I have misplaced the cord to juice up my camera.....I have been looking for it everywhere! It seems to have gone where all stuff in the house randomly disappears into. This means of course that somewhere in my house there has to be a one-legged (socks), long haired (hair elastics), constantly sniffling (handkerchiefs), ink-addicted (pens) person, that has now become interested in electrical stuff as well. Do you have one of these at home?

Anyway. We are having a white Christmas here. Lots of snow (20 cm in the last 5 hours) and ice. Just the way it should be. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a picture here.....

I wish you all a very happy Christmas, 
may all 
your wishes be granted!

Lots of love,
Heleen

Friday, 17 December 2010

Almost a miracle day

It was a day filled with little miracles today. First the world turned completely white with loads of snow. All the bushes and trees outside are wearing white fluffy hats and it looks truly beautiful.

The second amazing event was a visit from Sjefke. Now why is that amazing? Sjefke is a baby donkey, only three weeks old. He lives on a farm that is owned by good friends of mine. Since I have been sick, I could not pay them a visit to celebrate the birth of this gorgeous boy donkey. Kees (his owner) decided that if I did not come to him, he would just bring the baby to me. So we had a baby donkey in our hallway! He was not fazed by this at all. He walked through like he belonged. His enormous ears and his silky, spotted coat where stunning in real life. Meanwhile his mother was still in the trailer making loads of noise. People walked by looking really stunned about the long and loud IIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAA. Of course my camera was empty, but luckily pictures have already been posted on Facebook (Sjefke on Facebook), just click on the link and you'll find much more pictures of him and his mother Majolica.
Sjefke during his appearance at a school earlier today

What a boy!
As everything seems to happen in three, the third little miracle. Our dog Sara got really, really sick very very fast. We called the vet, had to bring her over immediately. We all were convinced that we would not see her again, she was that sick. She couldn't walk, her eyes were rolling back. It was horrible. However, arriving at the vets, madam stepped out of the car like nothing happened. The vet checked her thoroughly and diagnosed the event as an epileptic one. So we have our girl back, she is tired but happy. We need to watch her of course but for now, all is well. Hopefully it will stay that way!
The miracle dog herself.
More soon,
Heleen

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Testing a site.....

We are making real headway with our new project. The man building our new website has been very busy indeed. The site is now being tested. That is what this post is all about. All the invited testers have been working their way through the site.....me included. The good thing about me testing is that if I can use it......everybody can!

The site looks very beautiful (of course) but it offers a lot of possibilities. All these need to be tested to see if they are easy to use, necessary and of course WORK! I have posted some random pictures below because I have no clue how to reduce the size of pictures any other way...... They are to become my avatars or (test) profile pictures.

The magical bean that never grew......

My lovely Sjorsje, just saying hello.
Just to thank you for actually reading this rambling I will keep you informed about the progress (after all no good deed goes unpunished...) and of course I will invite you all to visit this amazing new initiative for charities all over the world. It is really a wonderful site - or it will become that soon -  offering a great deal of opportunities for sharing, networking, finding and offering knowledge and much much more!

Watch this space (or rather this blog)!
My disgruntled cat in her onesy....

Much happier on the couch!
Heleen

Monday, 29 November 2010

Knee deep in Christmas trees

What have I been doing? Well first of all finishing of my pillowcase for the swap of course. It was finished last Thursday, but the postal workers were on strike! Luckily today everything was working again and I finally send my box to my swap partner Peg. So that was one challenge down. She has not received it yet of course, so no pictures.

Each year we make up something to send people by way of Christmas cards. We have a lot of fun designing it, talking about it, buying the necessary material, anything accept actually making them. That is why each year we start way too late, work our fingers to the bone and finish just in the nick of time. Each year we swear we will not be making that mistake again. No. This year we will start in June, well July at the latest......Guess what. We did it again. So for the last few days I have been knee-deep in Christmas trees! I haven't finished yet.......


Lots of little trees! It is almost a production line in my room. Great fun to do though!

Meanwhile out in the real world the weather has been changing. The rain stopped. It became really cold (-5) and today the long awaited snow arrived. It is only a few centimeters, but it looks beautiful.
It is also fun to realize I do not have to go out! So I get to enjoy the white splendor from a warm and cosy house!

How are your Christmas trees coming?

More soon,
Heleen

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

First block down!

I promised to show you the finished first block of the new mystery. I did get distracted by Sinterklaas walking past my window and a lot of other stuff going on, but I did finish it!
Tadaaaaaaah!
I was very happy with the result! Now I just need to make the little squares required for the welcome quilt. That means I get to cut up some of the lovely fabric in the little silver box!

In the category other projects I am also making Christmas Trees, the pillow case of course and some other bits and bobs. It is a good thing that winter is closing in. All the warnings on the weather front only mean one thing: We are in dire need of more quilts! What a wonderful excuse.

What is your excuse?

More tomorrow,
Heleen

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sinterklaas!

It is that time of year again. Traditions are big around December. Everyone has their own for this time. Some of the traditions are truly wonderful, well to me anyway. Traditions for Christmas and - since I am Dutch -Sinterklaas, our version of Santa Claus. Sinterklaas celebrates his birthday (on December 6th) by giving all children in The Netherlands gifts the night before. A big celebration with lots of little traditions to go with it.

The big news is: Good old and very holy Sinterklaas is in Holland! He arrived last week. Tradition dictates that one of the nights he is in The Netherlands, he spends in Oss. The place I live. Our neighbourhood welcomes the holy man with much delight. This is the itinerary:

The small children make their own lanterns in the afternoon (to be used later). The moment the Sint arrives, a procession is formed. A brass band heightens everyone's spirit and the tour of the neighbourhood begins. People really flock outside to watch the procession goes by, singing and dancing. The Zwarte Pieten and Sinterklaas walk with the children.

The end of the tour is an assisted living accommodation for the elderly at the end of my street. These lovely people have a room ready for The Sint. He goes inside to change into his nightdress and hat. He makes one more appearance on the balcony of his room, before turning in for the night. The children (all waiting outside) sing one last song for him and then everyone goes home.

It really is a beautiful tradition. It is a fun way to bring people together and is just generally very lovely indeed.
You can just about make out the Pieten posing for their picture and a very little Sinterklaasje walking past!

As you can see, I faithfully took pictures, but apparently my camera does not take pictures after dark. The flash was impressive though. 

Next tradition involving our entire neighbourhood is the lighting of the Christmas trees. Again with lots of music, a tour past all the trees in our neighbourhood and lots of people! It is only fitting that it is supposed to snow here next week!

More tomorrow,
Heleen

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Poor Wiep!

Today is a bit of a day after.... The daughter of one of my fellow board members in Second Home Foundation was taking part in a big singing competition. It is called The Voice of Holland and  - to be totally frank with you - the whole show is addictive. I usually hate televised talent shows (such as Idols, Pop Start, etc.) but I started watching for Wiep (the daughter in question). You have to show support, you understand!

As it turns out the show is great fun to watch and it really had me on the edge of my seat. Wiep was wonderful. Unfortunately yesterday she competed for the last time. She was voted of the show. Totally unfair. Still her coach told the audience that she was going to make more music with Wiep and to keep our eyes and ears on this girl. It is sad to see her go. Check out her last performance by clicking here: Wiep during her last performance.

In other news the building of my sisters' new house has finally started. She is keeping a blog about her adventures. I borrowed the picture below. Well, stole it actually.... At the moment it is just a big whole in the ground but she assured me that next year there will be a beautiful house. OK. Good luck!

Petra and Kees are still in The Gambia. They have been moving house. Not with a truck and movers and labelled boxes.....No, this is Africa remember. They had help. A friend of ours arranged a tractor and 20 guys to help carry everything to the new place! I cannot show you a picture because they are having serious internet issues i.e. it is off more than online. According to Petra it all went fine. They have moved in! We will probably have to do it all again next year when we move into our own accommodation. I just hope I will be there to help this time around. Fun!

My life was just a bit more boring. I was working on the first block of the mystery......still! It is almost finished now and I hope to show you a picture tomorrow. I have also been working on the Christmas cards we are going to send out this year.

More tomorrow!
Heleen

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Visiting my favourite place

After a long time - well it seemed like a long time to me - I went to the quilt shop on Tuesday. It was wonderful. All the new fabrics, new patterns to buy fabric for and just the overall atmosphere formed a very gratifying experience. I went there with my sister, who luckily is just as addicted as I am.

I needed to go to the shop in order to get some new fabrics for my pillow swap (sorry no picture of those). But frankly, any excuse will do. I also needed a new spool of thread for sewing my new mystery quilt. In the shop I found out I needed to buy some more fabric for the small quilt included in the mystery. My sister needed fabric for the same project. It was a great excuse to look through all the fabrics and notions available at the Quilterij. Needless to say we had a wonderful time doing so.

Tamzin kept a straight face during the constant lengthening of my list. She understands as she not only works in the shop but is also a gifted quilter herself. To make the experience even more pleasurable she packed the fabrics (and thread, of course) in a nice little silver box.
It just lifts my heart looking at these beauties.
With our bags full of fabric we went back home again. Full of contentment and looking forward to the projects that can now take shape for real! How much pleasure can one person have?
I wish you all a day full of pleasure!

More tomorrow.
Heleen

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Surprises on Twitter

Since I have become a loyal user and follower of many on Twitter, Facebook and (oh YES) Youtube, the world has given me many beautiful and wonderful moments. Quotes that brighten my day such as this one @nmeneghin. Her quote? If nothing is going right, just turn left.

Twitter also sends me to the most surprising places. Check out this link and be amazed yourself.
Real singing in the kitchen. On a day like today it was just what I needed. I loved it. Hope you do too.

This picture was taken in the morning! Dismal weather.
 Thanks to my laptop I visit many places in the world. Doing it in person is my friend Petra. She left for The Gambia yesterday. She was supposed to arrive at 20.00 hrs. Alas, it took a little longer due to the storm, a broken aeroplane and just general bad luck. She finally touched down in Banjul at 03.30 hrs.

Since we have discovered the joys of Skype, I get to enjoy the view and most of the stories too. Without all that pesky travelling! It is not all good of course. The weather is much better in The Gambia and I would like to cuddle the kiddies and meet all our fantastic friends but you can't have everything I guess.

I plan to enjoy her trip almost as much as she does and hope she gets all the work done for Second Home!

More tomorrow,
Heleen

Friday, 12 November 2010

Poor little Loedertje

My cat is growing up. So much so that something needed to be fixed.... She went to the vet on Wednesday to be spayed. The poor little thing. Luckily the vet is just as crazy about her as I am. That meant cuddles before and after the operation for Loedertje. She was very groggy still for the rest of Wednesday. Trying to jump onto her favourite places.....and missing by a mile. We really had to keep an eye on her.

Down for the count
After visiting the litter box and eating (yes indeed after all she had had nothing to eat all day, terrible!) she finally settled on my legs. We were warned about her licking her stitches and given some tips on how to prevent that. So we found a onesy to put on her and remodelled that.

 I cut the legs (she kept tripping herself up) and added a strip of fabric to keep everything in place. The fabric is tied at her back. Unfortunately she should be renamed Houdini. I kept finding the thing everywhere. Ah well, it was worth the try.

I have tried to take a picture with the cat actually in the onesy, but that proved impossible. She is doing great though. She takes her medication without any fuss at all. In fact, she just takes the tablets from my hand and eats them! Apparently it pays to have a cat that is addicted to food!

It is Friday now and she has been trying to play a bit. That was not a huge success, she is still a bit sore. Next Friday the stitches will come out and hopefully she will be back to normal!

More tomorrow,
Heleen


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Pillow swap news

Sorry but no joy for this one. Into storage!
Don't panic. I am not giving any secrets away!
I have been very quiet about my progress with the pillow case for the swap. The thing is, I had a plan made and was working diligently on completing the project. The plan was fine, the pattern worked well. It was just that I did not enjoy working on it. Having experienced this before I knew something was not quite right..... Yesterday morning I was looking at the (almost completed) top and I just wanted to put it in a box.  So I made a decision. I am starting over.

I have selected a new pattern and new fabrics and I feel much happier now! So Peg this is the pillow case you will certainly not be receiving. You will have to wait and see for the next one!

More tomorrow,
Heleen

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

New mystery

I've told you about the new mystery Patch Parade. I've been very good and finished the top of the last mystery first. Even though I was almost salivating at the thought of all those new pretty fabrics. I did not cave.

Before starting the block I have been pondering (quite happily) my full box of fabric and the pattern. Loedertje enjoyed this process too. She was happy to sit in the lid of the box, watching me taking up each peace of fabric at least a dozen times.

Happy days!
Yesterday afternoon and this morning I finally started ironing and cutting the fabric for the first block. This is actually the part I really enjoy. All the pieces in front of me and imagining what the block will look like finished. I found myself humming happily. Fine for me but not for anyone else since I cannot be trusted around music for any reason. In school I was even offered a higher grade in music class. The only thing I had to do for that was NOT SING!

All the pieces ready!

It took me a long time but now I have finished. All 172 pieces have been cut and I can start sewing.The block is going to be 60x60 cm, so it is a big one.

I'll show the block when it is finished!

Have a lovely day!

More tomorrow,
Heleen

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Blogging and Mystery unravelled!

With the help of a friend I found out that keeping up with all the blogs I want to follow is easy. A feature on gmail provides an overview of the newly published blogs. The only down side is that I can't comment on the blogs......well yet. I will find out how that works to. The wonderful world of computers!
The same friend forced me to start using Skype. She is leaving for The Gambia soon and I need to be updated of course. With Skype (what fun) this is free and very, very easy. It is really a treat to find out so many new things from my bed! Another advantage: No holding of a phone, so all that important chatting can be done while working on a quilt (or something else to be fair, with me it will be mostly quilting).

And now, the mystery is unravelled! I finished the top of the Fabricwonderland quilt and it is truly fabulous!
Yesterday evening (late) I stitched the last piece in place! I am very proud of it.

It was a bit of a hassle to get the top photographed, after all the thing is 2.40 by 2.40 meter! In the end we threw it over the bed. It was dark mind you, the picture is not of the best quality. I just could not wait to showcase the top.
Even on the bed you cannot see the whole quilt top!

It is the first quilt I made with so many round shapes.With my sewing qualities it is a miracle that everything fitted so well. 

Detail. A whole row of stars.

Big stars on corners.
I have to tell you that I hand stitched the whole quilt. Yesterday I pieced the final borders in place. In total I stitched for 4.80 meters (in one day). My fingertips show all of that distance! It was all worth it though, I am very proud of myself. Now all I need to do is make a backing for it, sandwich the quilt, quilt, bind, fit the label and then I am finished. Which of course should be half way through 2011 (I hope)!

On Thursday I received the first pattern for Francoise's new mystery. It is called Patch Parade and the first block looks beautiful. You can check it out on her blog  http://fabricwonderland.blogspot.com. So now I get to rummage through those wonderful fabrics I bought months ago and start a new adventure!

More tomorrow.
Heleen

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The good things in life

After all my moaning about the fall and the fact that I don't much care for it, now for the good things in life.


New plants on my window sill
 It always looks better when there are plants on the window sill. I love the red and green. It is reminiscent of Christmas. That way I remember to look forward to that too!
A stack of new books to read
 I bought these books online. Using a gift certificate I was given on my birthday. I love books and new books have a special charm. The promise of a new and fantastical story. A new world to discover, new characters to get to know.....Simply wonderful.
The ever gratifying Nigella Lawson
Do not underestimate the power that a good cook book has. I love reading the recipes and watching the pictures. Nigella never disappoints. This is her latest. I gave a copy to my sister for her birthday. She however is very greedy and mean and refuses to let me borrow it. In all fairness she has not finished it yet, so there you go. I had no choice but to buy a copy for myself!

Tonight therefore I will be tucked in, with a quilt of course, thumbing through the pages of my new cook book! There is just one word for that in my opinion: DELIGHTFUL!

Have a wonderful fall evening.
More tomorrow,
Heleen

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The box versus the basket

My cat is a joyful event in herself. When she arrived my mother and my sister immediately went out to buy the much needed cat supplies. She needed toys, food, a litter box, a brush, flee treatment and of course a basket.

This is madam's basket, with all sorts of toys
 The basket was not a favourite....she much preferred the bed, the window sill, the rocking chair or just me. I still had some hope though. She might just find the basket and the toys a good choice. No! Her favourite toys include pins, screws, pieces of patchwork, spools of thread and of course my hands. She does play with the Hawaiian flowers, but that is just because it is fun when you chew through the thread and all the flowers fly all around.... In the meantime she has found a good replacement for the basket as well.

Yes. It is a cardboard box. She is loving it.
After all winter is coming and you need a warm place to rest your bones! I don't pretend to understand her, but I do enjoy her antics immensely.

More tomorrow!
Heleen

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Quilting

I finished the fourth step of the mystery top I've been working on all year! Only one border to go and the quilting may commence. I've already selected the thread I am going to use for this project. A very light shade of pink. I have not decided on the pattern to use though. Still time enough for that when I am stitching the last border. Since I do this by hand and the border will take the total quilt to 2.40 x 2.40 mtr it will take me a while to get there. No picture yet. I'll wait till the top is complete.

Luckily next Friday I will receive the first pattern for the new mystery! I can't wait to get started on that one too....
The very best cure for those autumn blues. A mad fiesta cat!
More tomorrow (well, to be honoust maybe the day after....)
Heleen

Friday, 22 October 2010

Autumn

Summer is really over now. Looking outside the weather seems to know that too. In the last few days it went from hail (really, hail!) to rain to sunshine to windy to cloudy......Make up your mind! The tree outside my window is starting to lose it's lush green look. Truly a sign of summer fading.
Tree in the rain
The cat doesn't agree to the weather either. Loedertje has decided that all hunting - well if she is not sleeping that is - should be moved to the indoors. Much better than getting your feet wet. The fish are not to bothered about this. They even swim up to the surface as if to taunt the cat.

The central heating has been working hard to keep us warm and snug. Quilt projects are lying around, just waiting to be finished or started. Christmas is approaching. Snow may be falling soon. Baking, decorating, christmas cards, lots of nice gatherings..... A wonderful time, sure sure......but me I just have a severe case of the autumn blues. And to be fair, I am quit enjoying it really.....

Remember The Second Home Foundation, well the project is moving to a new (and better) house at the end of November. Two of our board members are flying out for three weeks! No need to get jealous though, they will have a lot of work to do! In the meantime a new child has joined the project. Her name is Binta Conteh, she is only seven. Her mother (who also had special needs) has died in an accident. Her aunt has been looking after her since. Her aunt has decided she cannot take care of the little girl anymore. Luckily we can and want to. She has settled in well en according to our manager Marie she is a very special, fun kid. Well, just looking at her all of us agree!
Isn't she beautiful!


More tomorrow,
Heleen

Monday, 18 October 2010

Preparing for the next mystery


It is almost November. The start of Francoise's new mystery. I've already chosen my fabrics. They have been standing in their box for a while now. Every once and a while I open the box and just sit and watch them. It is very exciting.
My fabric choice.The background fabric is white.  Mmmmmmmmmm
 My sister Marieke has also decided to take part this year. Although she is very busy with the build of their new house the addiction to fabric won! Almost no pushing by me was necessary to make her join. Just a little nudge..... It will be fun to compare our progress. We also use each others talents shamelessly. Both quilts will be made by the both of us. Our own little bee!

My sister's fabric. Also wonderful.
I love the fact that in a little while I will have a big project to quilt and one to sandwich. Lovely.
If you want to take part, check out De Quilterij for more information.

More tomorrow,
Heleen

Friday, 15 October 2010

Swap and other things

Today I received an email from my swap partner Peg. She has been blogging for a long time. Check her out on http://happyinquilting.blogspot.com/. She has some truly stunning items showcased. I can't wait to start sewing on the pillow case!
Peg's blog!


I haven't made much progress on the mystery. I have been busy with the computer. The bad thing about reading blogs is that you find new blogs all the time. Curious as I am, I need to read them too.....it is starting to take a lot of time!

Also, a new initiative to make it easier for aid organizations to present themselves to the world is making huge progress. I am almost running to keep up with inventor Petra. It is going to be great. Make sure to check out the site and register any and all charities that need to be presented to the world.


For today, I am going to start getting fabrics together and find inspiration for the pillow case I have to send to Peg.

More tomorrow,
Heleen

Thursday, 14 October 2010

And now, something completely different

You might be led to believe that I do nothing but look at the animals in my house and quilt. That is not the case. I am also very involved with The Second Home Foundation. The foundation has founded a living accommodation for children with special needs in The Gambia in 2008. The living accommodation takes in the children during the week, in order for them to be able to go to school. The weekends are spent with their families. This way they get the best of both worlds. During the pick-up and drop-off time is taken to inform the families about the child's progress and to educate them in dealing with the disability of their child. Most families have already seen a significant change in their children.

While we were doing that, we found out that actually nothing is known about mental disabilities at all in The Gambia at all. Resulting in poor living conditions, abandonment and even death. Luckily people are waking up to the fact that these children are in fact precious. We are working with partners in The Gambia to increase knowledge, we send volunteers and interns to do the same. Most of all we are showing people what these kids need and how much better they feel when they get it.

I will be showcasing the children one by one on this blog. Can't wait?  Check the site  Second Home or simply leave a message on this blog to ask for information.


This is Buba. He is 12. He is one of my favourites due to his sweet nature.

Buba also suffers from epilepsy. He and his brother and sisters live with his grandmother in Tangi. His mother has died and his father is nowhere to be found. During the week Buba now lives at the Second Home lodge in Kololi. He enjoys music and loves to look through catalogues. Since Buba is staying at the lodge, his behaviour has improved immensely. He is happier too.

More tomorrow!
Heleen

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Unravelling the mysterie

In the last picture I posted yesterday I showed you a small piece of the Home Sweet Home quilt. In 2009-2010 I also took part in Fran├žoise's Mystery. This one is called Fabric Wonderland. The final pattern arrived by post on October 7th and I have only just started to piece together the quilt.
This is what it looks like so far!


It is big, but it should not be heavy.....

Of course Loedertje offered her help. It is nice and warm wrapped in a quilt. Even if it is just the top!
This is how big it is already. I am not even halfway!

It really feels like unravelling a mystery. Will the colours work or will the quilt be bland, will all the pieces fit (a problem I encountered last time due to my sloppy needlework) and most of all: How am I going to quilt this one? It will take me a while yet to finish the top. I do all the piecing by hand. I will show you the end result though, just be patient.

More tomorrow!
Heleen

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

It's not as easy as it seems

I had this idea. I was going to post all sorts of pictures today. Just to show you the cat, the quilt and all that ensues.... Unfortunately posting pictures is not as simple as it may seem. Now I have decided, after a long and very loud session with my computer, to try to simply copy and past.
Here we go, well that did not seem to work at all... Wait, wait. There is a button here that looks suspiciously like it could be....Yes result! It was not that hard after all. I just have to check out the buttons.....

Here are four pictures of my life:
This is my cat, Loedertje. I am trying to assemble a quilttop here. Unfortunately she is trying to sleep... Guess who won?

 Second one: This is Sjors. He has yet to accept a real life cat living in his house. This picture was made after him chasing the cat out of the room. He seems to be saying: "Don't worry, I think that got her!".

Loedertje again. This one caught her in the act of assaulting the fish. Do not be alarmed. The fish escaped without any effort and have since received a nice lid on the fish tank to protect them. Much to the dismay of the cat in question....

This is Saartje. Hard to tell from this one, but she is in fact a dog. This is basically her favourite position. Lying on my bed...The quilt you partly see on the bed is one I made. It was the Quilterij's Mystery for 2008-2009 designed by Francoise Maarse.It is called Home sweet Home.

More tomorrow!
Heleen



Monday, 11 October 2010

I caved

I know. I did not want to start blogging. I did not think I should just publish my ramblings for everyone to see. Then again. I do enjoy reading other peoples ramblings..... Anyway I will be polishing my computer skills with this site, so please bear with me. Let me know what you think!